Dollboy: Casual Nudism

Contrary to its title, there's nothing casual—musically at least—about Dollboy's Casual Nudism. Oliver Cherer's electronic folk music exudes child-like innocence, storybook mystery, and wonder, and often approximates a hike through an enchanted forest or across the desert plains of Texas ( “Kid of Speed” is graced by a steel guitar whose resonant shudder recalls Cold Blue artist Chas Smith). Clarinets, recorders, glockenspiels, xylophones, and kalimbas form tinkling wonderland of densely layered dreaminess that sometimes evoke Greg Davis's Arbor ( “Ringers”). Underpinned by an understated psychedelic character, a gentle and languorous ambiance pervades the album; in the otherwise folktronic “Aquasek,” for example, willowy electronic ambiance and a folk chant deepen the '60s psychedelic vibe, while the heavier “Underground/Overground” weds electronic sputter with cascades of tinkling glockenspiels and a Syd Barrett-styled vocal line (“Underground is overground is underground is overground”). In “Odd Man Out” and “Casual Nudism,” repetitive woodwind and vocal patterns suggest the influence of Reich. The material is consistently superb, whether we're referring to the psychedelic languor of “Black Sun,” the sparkling vignette “Abendmahl,” or the incandescent outro “Jungfrau,” but the most masterful piece may be the paradisiacal “Bala” which features gorgeous trumpet, trombone, and clarinet writing that would do Carla Bley proud. Casual Nudism manages to sound lovely without coming across as twee or cloying.

January 2007